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The ABLES by Jeremy Scott

The ABLES (edition 2015)

by Jeremy Scott

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465251,994 (3.08)1
Title:The ABLES
Authors:Jeremy Scott
Info:Clovercroft Publishing (2015), Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:Your library

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The ABLES by Jeremy Scott



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I wanted to like this book so bad! I'm a big fan of the YouTube Channel CinemaSins and when I heard the voice behind it had written a book, I thought that was right into my alley. When I got an eARC of the book, I was very happy!

Jokingly I told my friends I would certainly go and sin the book just as the movies, but I didn't know that would be such a massive job. The premise of disabled super heroes working together to save the world and overcome their disabilities was nice enough. Unfortunately, it was filled with almost all the clichés in the book and that was something I didn't expected (as in the CinemaSins they always make fun of clichés in movies). Besides in the beginning I found it far too easy to put the book down and read something else instead. I some times need to do that if I have another review book that needs to be read first, but it was simply too easy this time. It took about the halfway mark before I was really invested in the story. After that point it was a nice and quick read. And please, let me explain: I did enjoy reading it, it just wasn't as original as I hoped it would be.

Some minor spoilers may follow as I try to explain this.

The MC, Philip, is blind, which is inconvenient to say the least with his flowering superpower of telekinesis. After moving to a city that is completely filled with superheroes (and some of their minions), even though his little brother isn't to know about all this for some time (which I think is hard in a city filled with superheroes) and which seemed like a terrible strategic choice because if I were a super villain, I'd know just which city to nuke!

Philip attends the special high school for super heroes, but is put in a weird hodgepodge class of disabled children. I was wondering why all these children were put in that class in the first place. Many of them seemed to be ABLE to attend regular classes I'd say. There's for example a deaf girl (but can't she lip read? and if not, what is the use of placing her together with blind kids for sign language) and a boy with I think some kind of spasms in his leg. Why would you need to go to a special class for that? I spent my whole secondary school with a boy in my class who also suffered from leg spasms and we just helped him from room to room and there wasn't a single problem.

The deaf girl's superpower is superhearing, which is utterly useless to her and proves that life's a bitch. It's said that the whole superpower thing has something to do with genetics, since it's mostly familial, but then again it's said that only 10% of the children inherit the same power as their parents. How does THAT work? I wonder.

On this High School, and brace yourself: clichés are coming, an old tournament, that's been abandoned for years because of safety issues, has been brought back but our band of disabled super heroes is banned from participating. (I'm quite sure you also thought for a moment I was talking about The Goblet of Fire). For some reason, they are then allowed to participate, they find some evidence that a certain villain is on the rise but when they're back at school no one believes them? Sounds familiar, huh?

The rest I'll leave to yourself to figure out, but believe me: it doesn't end their. Also featured:

dead parents cliché, prophecy of a chosen one cliché, 'Luke, I'm your father'-cliché

From the blurb I'd gotten the idea that The Ables was also going to be about overcoming disabilities, and I thought that would be a wonderful message to spread. But 'overcoming' in this context mostly meant using other powers to fill in the gap. It's not about using telekinesis as a blind person, it's about borrowing someone else's vision to do it more easily. That felt a bit like cheating...

All in all, while enjoyable it was also cliché-ridden and that made me cringe more than once. Would I read the sequel? I probably would, but I wouldn't set my expectations quite as high as I did for this one.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! ( )
  Floratina | May 26, 2016 |
This is for a younger audience than I thought. It's a simple comic book plot, but a decent one. It's got some cliches. Doesn't break out of a mold or do anything to distinguish itself. It's no "Steelheart" or "Soon I Will Be Invincible". It's supposed to be about disabled superheroes, but the disabling doesn't come up much.

It's fun to see them come up with ways around it (like hooking a telepath to a viewscreen of the blind guy's POV). But they find ways around it quickly and it ceases to be an issue. Katawa Shoujo did a better job of dealing with the day-to-day hardships and it had a variety of characters -- thematically exploring who lets their disability define them and who doesn't. There isn't much of the daily life struggles they face, like the handicapped guy getting stared at. That's the sort of thing I wanted to see. In fact, I think one guy gets his arm back at some point. And my biggest complaint? No girls. ( )
  theWallflower | Aug 3, 2015 |
This review and others posted over at my blog.

Imagine sometime after you’ve turned twelve, your family moves to a new town just before school starts up again. Your dad then tells you it’s time to have “the talk” and you panic – not the birds and the bees, gross! – and takes you to a corn field at the edge of your new town. But as it turns out, this talk isn’t what you expected – your dad tells you that you’ve moved to a town full of people with superpowers, that he has superpowers and that you’re actually starting to develop your own powers! You’re telekinetic like your father, so you can move things with your mind. Now imagine how being blind is going to impact your powers. In fact, your new school, full of other kids with superpowers, has placed you in the special education class with other children they feel are disabled, despite having powerful abilities. Philip Sallinger is both more powerful than the average human boy, yet considered less powerful by his peers due to his blindness. He and his new friends must come to terms with their new abilities and also with the stigma of being classified as disabled. On top of all this, a strange figure arrive and starts to stir up trouble that Philip and his friends can’t seem to stay out of. They must find a way to overcome their difficulties and work together to save the town.

The Ables gives a fresh take on superheroes that I thoroughly enjoyed. Scott adeptly handled the social stigmas of having a disability and mixed them with the excitement anyone would feel upon discovering they have powers. Sure, Philip and his friends have superpowers, but their peers do too, and they consider being blind a disability, especially when your power requires visual knowledge of an object to judge it’s weight and lift it with your mind. Philip never previously considered himself disabled, despite being blind, but has to deal with some discrimination from others with powers who feel he and his friends cannot act in the same way other heroes can. Philip and his friends are highly determined, funny and flawed, making them believable and likeable characters. I especially enjoyed the way they learn to mix their powers to overcome some of their disabilities.

As one of the creators of CinemaSins (as the seal on the cover will tell you), Jeremy’s ability to nitpick and point on sins in movies is wonderful and hilarious. I feel I have to sin the book *ding!* for the monologuing villain, but it’s all in good fun. In the superhero world there’s something classic about a villain who feels the need to spend time doling out exposition rather than just annihilating the heroes. Overall, it really didn’t bother me and at least lent some depth to the villain. I also felt that considering the children were going to school just for heroes, there should have been training courses to assist them in developing their newfound powers, but there was nothing of the sort. There are also a few minor editing and typography issues *ding!* that occasionally pulled me out of the story, but only for a moment and there weren’t enough of them to make me mad.

Overall, this is a solid debut novel. I do wish some of the other students and their powers were given more of the spotlight, as the story mainly focused on Philip, Henry and Bentley, but perhaps we’ll get to know them more in the next novel that I’m sure Scott will be writing (and that I’ll be sure to read once it comes out). If you’re looking for a fun superhero novel to fill some time this summer, check out The Ables. ( )
  MillieHennessy | Jun 28, 2015 |
Percy Jackson with a disability! An awesome read that had me gripped from start to finish and as the mother of two children with different disabilities, I wish this book had been around when my son was younger. Phillip is 12 and has just moved to a new town. His father takes him out to a farm to "have the talk" with him but it isn't what you think...but quite funny anyway. The talk is basically that despite the fact that he has been blind since birth, Phillip comes from a line of Superheroes.it is in his DNA that he will have an amazing ability...his is telekinesis. The town that the family have moved to, Freepoint is essentially a town populated by superheroes and support staff, so everyone at his school has a super ability although they are protected by a NPZ ( no powers zone) that stops bullies from picking on younger kids. Phillip has been placed in the Special Ed class because he is blind with two boys who become his firm friends Henry, who is wheelchair bound and Bentley, who has cerebral palsy. There is also Donnie, a boy with Down syndrome and a deaf girl and two more blind boys.Together they must use their "abilities" to overcome each others' "disabilities" to work out who is sabotaging their town.. Is it an ancient prophecy come true or something closer to home? ( )
  nicsreads | May 25, 2015 |
The Ables by Jeremy Scott

Pros: highly unique pov, great cast of characters, dry sense of humour,

Cons: several small errors ruined immersion, some aspects of the story were hard to believe

For Parents: some swearing, some violence

The day before starting grade 7 at his new school in Freepoint city, Philip Sallinger’s dad takes him aside for ‘the talk’. But it’s not the sex talk Philip expected. He, his parents, and most of the people in their remote city, are superheroes, or as they call themselves, custodians. But Phillip’s blindness creates an obstacle with regards to using his power, and he finds himself in the special education class with others who have physical and mental differences.

Along with his new friends, Phillip must overcome the prejudices of those around them, and help protect the city from a dangerous enemy.

The novel is told from Phillip’s point of view and while much of the book includes visual clues to what’s happening, there are a lot of auditory and other sensory descriptions as well. The book takes Phillip through a variety of challenging experiences and it’s great watching him grow up, even if he does make a lot of mistakes.

The group of kids on the whole was excellently written. They’ve each got a disability (two are blind, one's in a wheelchair, one has down syndrome, one has extreme asthma and one has ataxic cerebral palsy), but they’ve obviously learned to adapt and end up doing a large number of remarkable things throughout the book. The author never forgets that certain things are more challenging for them, but also shows that those challenges are surmountable by determined individuals.

I really appreciated the book’s dry sense of humour, especially Phillip and James’s so called ‘blind humour’.

There were a number of problems with the novel, some of which are probably not things regular readers will notice or care about.

For example, we’re told early on in a mini history lesson that a pre-Biblical group of superheroes, who faced off with a supervillain, called themselves “the Ables”. This made no sense to me. We’re given the etymology for the use of the term ‘custodians’, so it struck me as wrong that a late middle English word would be used to describe an ancient group (especially by themselves). Yes, you could argue that it’s the modern translation of the word they would have used, but then why not use that word, or at least tell us that word? English didn’t exist as a language when this group was alive, and it would have made the superhero world’s history sound more authentic if an older word had been introduced with it, a la: “They called themselves ‘ipa’, which is Aramaic for ‘having the means to accomplish a task’. We call them the Ables.”

Occasional imprecise use of language kicked me out of the narrative. By which I mean that something was implied in the text that’s later explicitly refuted. There’s a scene where something embarrassing happens and Phillip wakes up wondering what rumours would be circulating. The impression I got from the scene - from the language used - was that this was the next morning after the event happened, but a few pages later I learned that several weeks had passed. I was left wondering why he’d be worrying about rumours that he must have heard by now and were likely dying down by this point. Each time this happened I found myself rereading the earlier section to figure out if I’d read it properly and/or had missed something. On one occasion I realized that Phillip had assumed something that turned out to not be true, but on others the text really did contain a contradiction.

I also spotted a few minor continuity errors, but these didn’t impact the story at all.

There were some aspects of the story that I didn’t really believe. There’s only been one death in a SuperSim over numerous years - despite the variety of powers on display and lack of training many of the kids apparently had - and that one death was caused by an inability to see? the SuperSim seems like the kind of activity that would, at the least, injure several people each year, regardless of how careful everyone tried to be. I was surprised that grade 7 students were allowed to participate at all, considering they were just gaining their powers and hadn’t had much training yet. The kids in the book learn so much more about their powers outside of school than inside of it that I wondered what official superhero training they were receiving, beyond history lessons, that would even prepare them for the superhero life.

I thought that the fallout from Donnie’s accident was overblown, considering his down syndrome had nothing to do with what happened, though this was pointed out by Phillip in the text.

Certain aspects of the plot were a little predictable, but on the whole the book went in directions I didn’t expect, with the SuperSim and other actions.

Despite these issues, the writing for the most part was smooth and entertaining. There’s a lot of variety in the action and the book is never boring. There are a few swear words used - in a realistic context - at the end of the book and minor violence a certain points in the book.

While I enjoyed the book, particularly the unique point of view and characters, the number of times I was jolted from the story due to small errors decreased my immersion. There’s a lot to like here - especially protagonists not generally seen in fiction at all, let alone a superhero story, and I do recommend it. Just try not to read it, as I had to, with a critical bent. ( )
  Strider66 | Apr 28, 2015 |
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